Going into this season, I feel that most Rangers’ fans wanted to do one thing and one thing only: tank.
There was not too much to be excited about when it came to this team. Sure, it would be fun to watch the team develop its youngsters, but other than that, I’m sure both the team and its fans knew that this was going to be a long season.
Well, in the beginning of the season, the Blueshirts set out to prove us wrong. Heck, at Thanksgiving, this team was first in the Metropolitan Division thanks to a 9-1-1 stretch.
The team was playing well because of the terrific goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, a great goal-scoring streak by Filip Chytil, and some puck luck. The team was also working hard and playing responsibly during this streak and showed fans that they would be more than worth watching this season.
Boy have things changed in two months. This team has won just one game in the new year and is looking like a club that is heading down the stairs of the NHL standings.
As of this writing, the Blueshirts are 23rd in the league with an 18-20-7 record. The club is currently 10 points out of the second wild card spot and is just five points ahead of the Philadelphia, currently the worst team in the league.
So, why have the Rangers looked so bad? For starters, both their defense and their goaltending have been absolutely awful.
For the past month or so, the club has shown its youth on defense. This means a lot of careless mistakes, an inability to protect their goaltenders, a lot of quality scoring chances against, and of course, a lot of pucks in their own net.
Since returning from injury, Kevin Shattenkirk has continued to struggle on defense. Sure, he can provide some offense (12 points in 37 games), but defensively, he’s been awful as he is currently a -7 and is showing that he is nowhere near being worth the money and big contract this team signed him to in the summer of 2017.
As a whole, the team is currently 26th in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 155 goals in 45 games, which puts them somewhat close to an average of four goals against per game.
Speaking of keeping the puck out of the net, the team’s goaltending certainly is not helping out much. After being great for the first two months of the season, we have seen Henrik Lundqvist’s play decline in a significant way.
The “King” is currently is 12-12-7 with a 3.08 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. What’s worse is that he has allowed a combined 15 goals in his last three games and has looked terrible in doing so.
Unfortunately, Lundqvist’s back-up, 22-year-old Alexandar Georgiev has not been much better. Sure, he has not gotten much help in the games he has played in, but he is currently 6-8 with a 3.43 goals-against average, a .895 save percentage, and one shutout.
Another problem is the team’s offense. This team cannot put the puck in the net and when you are already a team that cannot keep the puck out of the, that’s a big problem.
As of this writing (January 14) the team is 27th in the league in goals scored as they have scored 121 goals in 45 games. This puts them below three goals a game and with scoring up big time this season, that’s also a problem.
Lastly, it looks like that some players are thinking about their futures with the club. Guys like Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello could be gone at the deadline or at the end of the season, which would further show that this team is still significantly retooling their hockey club.
Put all of these things together and you have a long, bumpy, and losing road the rest of the way. Hopefully, the team and its fans can accept that because believe it or not, it will end up benefiting the franchise in the long run.
NY Daily News